Fine Gael Minister of State welcomes introduction of key measures in budget

Local Fine Gael Minister for Planning and Local Government, Deputy Peter Burke has welcomed Budget 2022, and highlights measures in his own Department as well as Social Welfare and Finance as key outcomes for the people of Westmeath.

Speaking from Leinster House, the Chartered Accountant said that the budget reflects the actions which must now be taken by Government.

“We have three key roles to carry out in Government through budget 2022 – recover from the pandemic, restore public services and repair public finances.

“In my own Department, a €4bn combined capital and current exchequer spend in housing – 20% increase on 2021 reflects that housing is Government priority number one. This is a 40 percent increase on the budget we had in 2008, during the height of the Celtic Tiger. We will meet the social housing needs of over 31,000 additional households during 2022 and 11,820 new homes will be added to the available supply of social housing with a focus on new build (9,000 homes ).

“I have received many queries on the Help to Buy Scheme, which has assisted over 28,000 young couples and individuals with up to €30,000 tax back on new build homes. I am delighted to confirm this will be extended into next year.

“Under my direct responsibility, I have secured increases in the budgets for housing for older persons, people with a disability and Traveller Accommodation. As Minister for Local Government, I have also increased the funding going to our local authorities up to €224.8m which represents an increase of €32.8m on core funding.

“I am also announcing today the extension of a targeted rates waiver so that businesses involved in hospitality, entertainment and live events will have no rates due again for the final quarter of 2021, while providing all income lost from rates to our Local Authorities,” Deputy Burke stated.

The Westmeath Minister of State also said that increases from his colleague Minister Heather Humphreys would be welcomed by the public, as well as reform of some schemes which will see the net widened so that more families are eligible for supports.

“We must ease the burden of the increase in the cost of living on all those most vulnerable, so I welcome modest increases in all social welfare payments across the board, including the old age pension (€20 per month ), the back to school allowance and the fuel allowance. Since my election, I have been fighting to increase supports to carers, who in my opinion are not prioritised or valued enough by the Government. So I am happy to see that thousands of more people will now be eligible for the Carers Allowance as changes have been made to the means testing for the first time in 14 years.

“While there is additional €1 billion allocation in the entire budget, some other key announcements are a tax deduction for home workers, reduction in income tax which means that everyone who pays income tax will benefit, and those on the minimum wage will be continued to be kept out of higher USC threshold while receiving an increase in hourly wage,” Deputy Burke concluded.

 

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